Park Studio: Complex Elements is an exhibition of original glass-blown works by 24 high school student participants from Santa Monica and Watts who have participated in SMMoA’s distinguished, annual Park Studio interdisciplinary arts education program.
Complex Elements showcases an array of colorless, clear glass vessels in various sizes, forming an abstract sculptural arrangement. These unusual glass-blown forms are the result of a unique collaboration between students from Santa Monica High School, Olympic High School, and Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center, and students from the Watts Labor Community Action Committee’s (WLCAC) glass program. In addition, the exhibition will feature a film that shows the participants’ process of learning how to blow glass and the skill-sharing that develops between students throughout the program.
The free Park Studio: Complex Elements education program took place during the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s (SMMUSD) spring break, from April 2 through April 5, 2012. Held at the WLCAC’s glass studio in Watts, Park Studio: Complex Elements included a visit to SMMoA and the Watts Towers. Participating students learned the practice of glass blowing from WLCAC artist Jaime Guerrero and his assistant, artist Richard Franco, as well as from year-round students in the WLCAC glass program. All workshops included transportation, lunch, refreshments, and art materials.
Complex Elements highlights the collaboration between the disparate communities of Santa Monica and Watts. Students from Santa Monica are recruited from the Pico/Cloverfield neighborhood, Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center, Santa Monica High School’s Art Program, and Olympic High School (a continuation school where students are eligible for semester elective credit toward obtaining their high school diploma). Students from the WLCAC glass program will help to impart the knowledge of glass blowing to the youth from Santa Monica and will exhibit their work at SMMoA.
Each year, Park Studio explores themes that combine art and urban life. The glass blowing program in Watts works with at-risk youth to build confidence, pride, and skills to work collaboratively through the creation of glass objects. Glass is beautiful and fragile—a metaphor for high-school student’s transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
Park Studio, founded in 1999 by SMMoA’s Director of Education Asuka Hisa, is an innovative interdisciplinary art education program that serves the community. Through Park Studio, SMMoA brings local students and contemporary artists together for workshops, art history lessons and field trips to cultural sites, offering extraordinary extra-curricular opportunities to students for free.
Support for Park Studio: Complex Elements has been provided by the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Grant Program and the Eileen Harris Norton Family Foundation. In-kind support has been provided by Bergamot Station Arts Center, IZZE, Cliff Bar, Bergamot Café, and the Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center.